To see descriptions of all available curriculum by grade, click here. To download a PDF of all available units, click here.

Sources of Energy

Energy Review: Practical and Technical Perspectives—What is Energy?

Grades:
4-8
Description:
Students will take a short field trip around the school to identify different types of energy.
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
To access prior knowledge about different forms of energy
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:
Author:
Erin Sturtz
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
50 min
Photovoltaic Module

How a Solar Cell Works: Photon Simulation

Grades:
4-8
Description:
The purpose of this activity is to simulate the movement of electrons at the p-n junction to create an electrical current. Students will play a modified game of musical chairs, where teams will compete against each other while creating their own electricity...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
To understand how a solar cell operates on the atomic level, through a simulation experience
Pedagogy & Practice:
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:
Author:
Erin Sturtz
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
50 min
SODIS_UV Treament

Solar and SODIS: Creating Clean Water for the World

Grades:
5-8
Description:
According to Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley, the number one and two challenges for humanity are energy and clean water. This classroom activity will introduce students to a low cost, renewable technique that connects these two issues. During the activity,...
Energy Content:
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will be introduced to the range of microbes in the environment, understand the risks of “dirty water” and be able to explain how energy from the sun can purify water through the SODIS technique.
Author:
Jamie Repasky
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour
Solar Tracker

Solar Tracker Challenge

Grades:
5-7
Description:
Students will build a simple circuit that can be used to track a light source. This circuit will be used as a springboard for discussion into the engineering design process, solar tracking, and basic electricity and circuits. The simple solar tracker operates...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students observe and replicate a simple solar tracker; learn basic electric circuits and terminology; reflect on possible improvements for solar tracker; and reflect on how the engineering design process is used daily.
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:
Author:
Jamie Repasky
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour
Outdoor Circuitry

Engineering with Renewable Energy: Solar Water Pumping

Grades:
4-5
Description:
Students will learn that energy from a renewable resource can be converted to electrical energy to do work by engineering a water pump system powered by the sun. They will compare the volume of water pumped by different designs and graph data collected and...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
The students will be able to learn what a solar cell looks like and how light energy triggers the cell to release negative charges to move toward the positive side, creating power as it moves from one side to the other. Students will be able to arrange four panels into the correct order to create power for an object and interact with a 3D model of a module to understand how the electricity to power the fan is created. The students will be able to experiment with solar panels (angle, direction) to power a small fan/LED light/circuit board. Students will be able to identify the best position/angle for maximum power. Students will apply scientific ideas to design and test a solar powered water pump that moves water at the fastest rate. Students will experiment and build understanding of parallel and series wiring and how energy moves in these circuits.
Author:
Jamie Repasky
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
2 hours
Kill-a-Watt Meter

Home Energy Consumption

Grades:
6-8
Description:
Students will calculate the energy consumption of a set of common household devices based on their operating power rating and then investigate the power consumption of other devices in their homes.
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students will understand power and energy as they relate to their electricity use. Students will be able to calculate energy consumption and the associated costs. Students will investigate ways they could reduce their own energy consumption
Pedagogy & Practice:
Author:
Deb Frankel
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour
Solar Tracker

Simple Solar Tracker

Grades:
4-12
Description:
Students will be shown a working example of a solar tracker and asked to replicate the design based on their observations. The design incorporates four solar cells arranged in two arrays with each array reverse biased such that they generate a voltage that...
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More Details Less Details
Learning Goal(s):
Students observe and replicate a simple solar tracker. Students will learn basic electric circuits and terminology. Students will reflect on possible improvements for solar tracker. Students will reflect on how the engineering design process is used daily.
Author:
Pat Blount
Relevant NGSS PE:
Other Subjects Covered:
Estimated Activity Length:
2 hours

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